Tonight marks the unofficial second half of the NHL season, and for many teams the start of a difficult stretch of games. All too often in the period before the All Star game, but after Christmas, teams struggle to maintain focus and deliver consistently strong efforts. This is often the period when bubble teams solidify, or squander, their post season positions.
16 games, 6 at home, 10 on the road, 11 versus the east, 5 against the west.
It is among the 11 games versus Eastern Conference teams that the Sens will face their most important games.
Canadiens x2, Sabres, Lightning, Jets, and Leafs, all 4 point games, all teams competing with the Sens for a post season position. If the Senators can continue to hover around .500 in the other 10 games of this stretch, and win each of these 4 point games, they will make the post season.
The Sens have gone 5-3-2 in their last ten games, an impressive record for this young team, and it has them in the thick of the battle for a play-off spot, but, as of game 37, it means nothing, if it doesn’t continue. And if it does continue, it will be against some very good teams. Very good teams (Flyers x2, Pens, Rangers and Sharks).
So it starts tonight, against the Habs, a team desperate for a win, and not about to take a night off. Sure the Habs have been atrocious of late, and the Sens are solidly ahead of them in the standings, but no doubt tonight will be a game played against a team bringing their ‘A’ game.
Montreal remains a relatively good defensive team and Ottawa will have to stick to the plan, be patient, and continue getting pucks to the net and try to frustrate Price by maintaining pressure in and around the blue paint.
This is a must win, at a difficult time in the schedule, but good teams, post season teams, find ways to win these sorts of games, posers don’t.